Category Archives: Cornish Heritage

Eh?!

Anyone else shocked and amazed at Ginsters winning anything to do with pasty-making, let alone the World Pasty Championships?!?!

http://tinyurl.com/8aboxhc


Cornish Archaeologist Hits Out

Further to the post, Natural ‘England’ – rapists of historic Cornish moorland.

A Penzance archaeologist and historian has joined with Cornish MP George Eustice in calling for ‘English’ Heritage to be replaced, in Cornwall, with a locally based body.

Craig Weatherhill, author of several books, papers and articles, is exasperated by what he terms: “This arrogant quango’s disgraceful neglect of, and contempt for, Cornwall’s valuable heritage”.
The latest in a series of incidents stems from a site meeting on Aug 6th, by groups concerned with serial damage to the Tregeseal stone circle, St Just, and associated ancient monuments, allegedly by activities imposed upon the moorland by sister quango Natural ‘England’.
“Initially, ‘English’ Heritage did not want to know,” says Mr Weatherhill, “until the Celtic League, an organisation recognised by the United Nations, became involved. The Assistant Inspector of Ancient Monuments, who attended, promised to produce his recommendations within a fortnight. He failed to do so. Frequent enquiries since then have merely produced adjusted promises, the last being for Oct.19. That has come and gone, and still there is nothing.
“It is nowhere near good enough. ‘English’ Heritage has a long record of turning blind eyes to the damage and destruction of ancient sites in Cornwall, from the Cadbury’s Creme Egg Hunt in 1984, to the utter destruction of numerous sites they are appointed to protect. They ruined the fogous at Carn Euny and Chysauster, and publicly insulted those who spoke out. According to their then Chairman, the latter ‘wasn’t exactly Stonehenge’, which pretty well sums up their whole attitude.
Unless it is a site from which they can turn a profit, they simply do not want to know. In fact, they’ve hived off all the guardianship sites they were appointed to manage to people like the National Trust and the Cornwall Heritage Trust – except for those which generate revenue.”

Referring to the original bid that secured World Heritage Site status for Cornish mining, Mr Weatherhill outlined the actions of ‘English’ Heritage to delist and support the demolition of a Grade II star engine house near St Austell. “EH’s case,” he said, “was that the engine house was worthless as it did not contain an engine. This was astonishingly ignorant, and not only effectively placed all but two Cornish engine houses at serious risk, but almost jeopardised the entire WHS bid. Of course, it need hardly be said that the applicant was a major corporation”.
“At Tintagel in 1998,” he added, “news of the discovery of a piece of slate incised with names of 6th century men, including one called Artognou, was suppressed by EH until the start of the peak holiday season. Then they arranged headlines in every major newspaper, claiming proof of King Arthur. Of course, this was total bilge, but EH was far more interested in the gate money than they were giving historical facts. Our heritage deserves much, much better than this.
“In 1988, Penwith Council wrote to EH, concerned that significant monuments in the area had no legal protection. EH assured them that a radical new Scheduling list was in progress, to be complete within 5 years. It never appeared, not to this very day, but EH kept on giving the Council that assurance.” Mr Weatherhill says. “Then, just last year, I came across a document written by Cornwall’s Historic Environment Service in 2008, clearly stating that all Scheduling in West Penwith had been halted in 1987, EH deciding that the new Environmentally Sensitive Area scheme for Penwith would be adequate protection. Of course, it was no such thing. The ESA had no statutory teeth, and only a voluntary take-up. If that wasn’t bad enough, EH had deliberately lied, several times, to the local authority! I know this to be fact, because I was the officer at the Council who wrote the letters.
“EH’s latest piece of blinding arrogance is to see a play about World War II at Pendennis Castle cancelled because of the quango’s crazy insistence that all reference to Nazis and Jews be written out of the script. It’s unbelievable!”

Mr Weatherhill, who became a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd in 1981 for services to archaeology, claimed he could cite many more cases of ‘English’ Heritage’s neglect and misrepresentation, least of all that which marketed Cornish Celtic heritage as that of a totally unconnected people. “There is a frankly sinister political aspect to EH’s policies”, he claimed.
His call for the disbanding of ‘English’ Heritage and Natural ‘England’ is also economically sensible, he suggests. “If the government is serious about curtailing expenditure,” he says, “then what is the sense in maintaining two tiers of administration in both fields? Get rid of the national bodies, and devolve their powers to local level and local knowledge. We still await signs of Mr Cameron’s much-vaunted ‘localism’, especially on this side of the Amazon*, so here’s a perfect way to kickstart it.” He added that most Cornish people he had spoken to would be greatly relieved to see the backs of both quangoes.

*This refers to David Cameron’s on-air blunder regarding protests over his proposed transgression of Cornwall’s historic River Tamar border with the statement: “It’s hardly the Amazon, is it?”


The Box Opens Further…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/nov/03/prince-charles-duchy-environment?newsfeed=true


Cornish National Minority Report

Further to my previous post on the Cornish National Minority report 2 you can now view it online:

http://www.oldcornwall.org/Cornish%20Minority%20Report%20final%20doc.%20PDF.pdf


Does Accent Matter?

Lying in bed this morning with the window open and listening to the voices of some of the people in my street, going off to work, it struck me as very depressing. Depressing in the sense that I heard not a single Cornish accent in the tiny cobbled street of the village I live in, in West Penwith.  Where once the streets of the village would be ringing with Cornish accents, they now grow fewer and fewer. What has happened? Well obviously the influx of up-country people is in-part to blame. Of the eleven houses in the bottom half of my street, only four house Cornish folk. Two, (the biggest) don’t house anyone but for a few days a year. But it’s more than just that and it’s apparent all over Cornwall.

That most fantastic of Cornish writers, the late Nick Darke, once said, “A community that loses its past is in danger of losing its way.”
While masses is happening in the Duchy to preserve our language, old customs etc. the one thing on the way out, it seems, is our beautiful accent. For years, any ‘rural’ accent has denoted the speaker as ‘stupid’ and therefore a disadvantage. So people have started to lose their accents to avoid being tarred with that condescending brush. Today we are bombarded with southern accents; RP or home counties through television and radio. Things changed a little in the nineties, when more ‘regional’ accents were heard but these tended to be a mix of north country, Scots and the ever present home counties. You can’t even hear a local accent on local radio or television anymore. I know of schools in Cornwall whose pupils have been told to stop speaking with a Cornish accent by the teacher. Little wonder then, some of our young folk talk nothing like us.

Renowned Cornish film maker Mark Jenkin:
“I haven’t got a Cornish accent because when I went to school, it was thought the Cornish accent was not a very good thing to have. So you were kind of told, not directly but it was certainly coaxed out of you, the Cornish accent. People are beginning to be proud of their Cornish accents again now but when I was growing up it was a thing to be ashamed of and that’s because of these depictions we have. If you want to have a stupid character in a TV programme, give them a Cornish accent. So what does that do to kids who are growing up? They sit down and watch ‘good-old, respectable BBC’ and they show somebody who’s an idiot speaking the way they speak. So what do they do? They change the way they speak. And it’s a beautiful accent. We need somebody for Cornish people to look up to, who’s Cornish, who’s got a Cornish accent, to start redressing that balance, so in my films, characters will have Cornish accents and the cooler the character, then the stronger their fucking accent as far as I’m concerned!”

Luckily Mark’s not alone. Pockets of young people all over the Duchy are producing work that revels in being Cornish, having an accent and speaking Kernewek. Young people need to be proud of who they are and hold on to precious things like their accents.

So does accent matter? Bleddy right it does! Dialect is vitally important as well. Without it we become drones. Borg-like nobodies. I don’t want to sound like people who live hundreds of miles away, a people with whom I have no connection. I want to sound like my Father, like my grand-parents and their parents did. Like the old boys I work with. Like a Cornishman!
Accent underpins who we are as a people, along with our dialect, our language and our history.


Carlyon Bay

This:

Carlyon Bay

or something like this:

Carlyon Development

Maybe developers and their Cornwall Council bedfellows could build here?

Gwithian

After all, it’s only a beach…


The Duke, the Statue and the Money

Some weeks ago, Charles Saxe Coburg-Gotha or ‘Windsor’ as he likes to call himself, aka The Duke of Cornwall, very ‘kindly’ sent a cheque, for an undisclosed amount (£500 according to An Helghyer’s sources) to the people raising money to erect a statue in memory and honour of the countless miners who lost their lives or suffered debilitating illness from their work underground in the St Just and Pendeen districts.

Now, the good people of St Just and Pendeen have, for years, been doing all they can to raise money to have made and erect this fine statue.
It is expected to cost around £40,000 and they, through various auctions, public events etc have raised thousands towards it but are struggling to reach the target.

My point, is this: I find it a bit sick that the Duke of Cornwall couldn’t have coughed up the remainder in order for this statue, which was first mooted in 2000, to be made.
Since the creation of the Dukedom in 1337, the successive Dukes have made a pretty penny out of Kernow over the years, with Charles being the latest leech.
For all the Duchy of Cornwall’s contemporary talk of a ‘Private estate’, anyone with an ounce of historical knowledge knows this to be blatantly not the case. (see here for more info)

In terms of why this is relevant to mining and a miners’ statue is as follows: for a five hundred year period, ‘tribute’ or ‘coinage’ was levied against the tinners of Cornwall by the successive Dukes of Cornwall. This meant vast sums of money worked for, by Cornishmen in blood and sweat, leaving the country and going into the pockets of the gad-about Dukes to lead excessive and lavish life-styles.

It has been worked out, that in today’s money, the revenue from tribute over the five hundred year period it lasted, is around £20 billion.

Even after tribute had ceased, vast sums still poured (and still does) from Cornwall to the Duke.
Edward Albert Saxe Coburg-Gotha (Edward VII) was Duke of Cornwall from 1841 until he became King in 1901. At 19, his wealth from the Duchy stood at, in today’s terms, £60,000,000. Huge amounts of Duchy income were spent on his gambling and the debts there accrued. In 1847, whilst the Cornish men, women and children from whom the spoils were drawn, were dying in the streets from starvation, the Duke was living it up, sailing down the Nile, accompanied by an entourage of boats containing some ten thousand pints of beer, three thousand bottles of champagne and four thousand bottles of claret!

And so to today. Ol’ Charlie can only spare a donation. You’d think that out of some sort of thought for the common man, whom over the centuries has created the wealth and paid for the homes this peculiar man now enjoys, he might see his way to shelling out forty grand (a paltry sum) in order to honour some of the bravest men who ever lived (and who actually knew what a hard day’s work was!).
Alas no. After all, he’s only the head of a Private Estate, isn’t he?


Skynt/Piran

Today I have decided to lighten the mood. Below are two links – one on the good news that The St. Piran Trust have been given a grant to be used for the prep work on excavating St Piran’s Oratory in Perranporth. The other, a link to the brilliant Skynt: The Musical. This was the winner of the Govyn Kernewek 2010 award, which allows filmmakers a budget of £5000 to make a film using the Cornish language.

http://www.st-piran.com/latestnews.htm

http://vimeo.com/18760085

Sowena!